House Mother Normal, subtitled “A Geriatric Comedy,” is the English writer B. S. Johnson’s fifth novel. Unusual in both its subject and structure, this novel is a remarkable study of old age, stripped of sentimentality and spiked with bizarre language and perceptions. Made up of eight monologues describing a single day at a nursing home, House Mother Normal explores the failing minds of the elderly with precision, humor, and unflagging compassion, and Johnson achieves, with inventiveness and escalating absurdity, a vivid multidimensional effect.
B.S. Johnson was an English experimental novelist, poet, and critic.
Britain’s one-man literary avant-garde
Like his admirer Samuel Beckett, Johnson locates his voices among conditions of such deprivation that even the most miserable memories are gilded by comparison: this paradox fuels equal parts of comedy and pathos. Never sentimental, at once corrosive and elegiac, House Mother Normal is a remarkable achievement.
—The New York Times Book Review
The future of the novel depends on people like B. S. Johnson.
A most gifted writer.
This is the most accomplished tour de force so far from a writer who has always rejected the Dickensian limitations of the novel.